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Poster: Monte B Cowboy Date: Jul 14, 2013 8:43am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: new Festival Express footage & some dating notes

Several years ago I wrote an essay about Toronto's scene in the late '60s and early '70s. It describes the hippie scene I experienced at the Rochdale College commune in downtown Toronto. Did the Festival Express, or the band, visit Rochdale?

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 15, 2013 2:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: new Festival Express footage & some dating notes

On the contrary - Rochdale visited the band. The 9/3/70 Rolling Stone article goes into some detail about Rochdale, since the group that organized the free-show protests was based at Rochdale College. The May 4th Movement issued a public statement insisting that the Festival be free.

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2013-07-15 09:03:31

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Poster: Monte B Cowboy Date: Jul 15, 2013 9:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: new Festival Express footage & some dating notes

I watched the clip with Garcia and Weir arguing vehemently with one of the kids who wanted the Festival Express shows to be free. I would point out that the GD band needs to be paid the compensation that was agreed upon for each commercial gig. In doing so, they can manage their resources effectively, and then go on to play numerous "free benefit" shows.

According to WikiPedia, "The tour ultimately began in Toronto at the CNE Grandstand, which was plagued with about 2500 protestors who objected to what they viewed as exploitation by price-gouging promoters. The opposition was organized by the May 4th Movement (M4M), the left-rebel group that grew out of the May 4, 1970 Kent State shootings. They attempted to crash the gates and scale the barbed wire fence and clashed with police, resulting in several injuries. To help calm the crowd, Metro Police Inspector Walter Magahay tried to get the promoter, Ken Walker, to lower ticket prices, but he refused. Subsequently, Jerry Garcia, in conjunction with Magahay, was instrumental in calming the unruly crowd by arranging a spontaneous free "rehearsal" concert in nearby Coronation Park upon a flatbed truck, while the scheduled show continued at the stadium. Once the free concert, which began at about 7:00pm on June 27, was announced, most of the ticketless fans dispersed to Coronation Park, with an initial attendance of about 6,000, thereby resolving the protest."

All the anti-war kids in the USA who were getting drafted knew they could always go to Canada to avoid being sent to Vietnam. Many hundreds (perhaps thousands) of them did go to Canada to avoid the draft. The Canadians were being very, very generous to USA's young men who were seeking asylum in their country. I couldn't access the Rolling Stone article and I wondered if they discussed this point when Jerry and Bobby and those Canadian kids debated "free music".

The May 4 Movement grew out of the Kent State Shootings. GD played a free benefit show at M.I.T. on May 6, 1970 in response to the Kent State massacre.

The Wesleyan University blog you wrote is a must-read for anyone trying to understand the protests during The Festival Express.

This post was modified by Monte B Cowboy on 2013-07-15 16:26:11

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 15, 2013 12:41pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: new Festival Express footage & some dating notes

From the article:

"M4M (May 4th Movement) is a coalition group of students and street people formed to commemorate the Kent State murders, which inaugurated a confrontation with Toronto Police at the American Consulate on the issue, with 91 persons arrested. They've begun organizing and highlighting various exploitation issues: unemployment, authoritarian schools, police repression, American imperialism, English-Canadian business oppression, $20 bellbottoms, and cultural exploitation...
They spotted [the Festival Express promoters] from the windows of Rochdale College, where M4M is headquartered, and...swooped down, their message picked up and promulgated by the (not notoriously revolutionary) Toronto press: STOP THE RIP-OFF EXPRESS!
Rochdale College (often pronounced Roachdale by bewildered foreigners), ironically facing Marshall McLuhan's offices, is an '18-story high-rise freak palace.' Originally granted government money for the support of a residential experimental college, it has turned into what might be called a front for subsidized housing (though the rents aren't that cheap).
People live and work in this housing-project type building with an incredibly high lifestyle. You see those dope police wearing white institutional jackets? You think they're there to bust you? Forget it. They test the quality of the grass, hash and acid when a complaint about the drug's efficacy is brought up. Hard drug pushers are kindly requested to move on. The fire alarm system is actually used for bust warnings. Local rock groups like the People's Revolutionary Concert Band and Boogie Dick hang out and play for free. There's naked sunbathing on the roof, underground films in the film room; and the College supports the Coach House Press which publishes poetry books and magazines of extraordinary quality. Graffiti decorates all the halls ("Gee, Tonto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore") and the College paper runs community news and requests: "I want to paint a 17-story marijuana leaf in such a way that it would be visible only from the second floor patio. Come rap with me."
M4M has offices on the third floor. The representatives we'd met were frustrated by the lack of political consciousness among residents of the College. But the group's attack against Festival Express brought them enormous publicity, and they aim for a wider following than Rochdale College inhabitants. An 'Open Letter to a Closed Corporation' presented to [the promoters] on June 19th contained the following:
'We demand that Transcontinental (Rip-Off) Express be free for everyone and all tickets refunded; there be free food, dope and music for the people there, with no cops. Failing these totally reasonable and just demands, we demand that 20 per cent of the gate receipts be returned to the community in the following ways: money for already existing free food programs, day care centers...collective bail fund to fight Toronto pig for all People's Parks,' etc, etc."

(An account follows of M4M's meeting with the promoters, much the same way as it's presented in the film.)

"On the first day of the Toronto Festival, about 2500 kids had tried to break into CNE Stadium, fighting with the cops. Ten police were injured, a number of kids, and 22 were arrested...
Jerry Garcia had helped cool things down by setting up a Free Festival at nearby Coronation Park, where the Dead, Purple Sage, Ian and Sylvia, James and the Goodbrothers, and People's Revolutionary Concert Band played to 4000 kids the first day and 500 the next day... Kids went in and paid to see the second day's show [at the stadium, and a promoter] paid for the supply of free food that was given out at Coronation Park.
About 37,000 persons had attended that two-day Toronto Festival, about 13,000 fewer than expected. The Toronto press played up the violence: 'Bashed Heads and Bad Trips'... The atmosphere was extremely tense, with police using force against kids using their force to break into the Stadium. It had affected the stage presentation, which was sometimes slow.
And it had affected some of the on the first day, when kids clambered on stage trying to politicize the event and were yanked off.... When the Dead played, a kid came onstage and pointed to each member of the Dead and shouted, 'You're all phonies, you and you and you...'"

(There was a press conference on the train when the Express reached Winnipeg.)

"Outside in the lounge a young girl was telling the Dead and Kenny Gradney that there are people starving in Saskatchewan. She was arrogant and sensitive, and even though her words were almost as cliched as the press...her tone was convincing, pleading, intuitive; she spoke with passion.
Jerry Garcia objected to her using the word 'pigs.' "If you call people pigs, that's what they will become. We're not trying to alienate people, we're more interested in getting the whole thing together."
She became angry at not getting through and she stepped up the rhetoric. Kenny told her she didn't know how well off she was. "The radicals in the States have some point. Alberta itself is as far left as anywhere in North America outside of Cuba, so what are you complaining about? This ain't no East LA. Have you ever been taken into a gas station washroom by a couple of cops?"
She backed down and started hitting the price of admissions. To her amazement the Dead sided with the promoters! "If you want something for nothing, jerk off," said Bob Weir, and everybody got up and left.
She was left standing there in the vacuum of her utopian philosophy: simplistic politics, fired by incredible energy and sincerity. While the claims of the M4M are relatively naive and unthought-out, their energy and sincerity is quite convincing...
In Winnipeg, where the promoters would have needed an attendance of at least 21,000 to break even, fewer than 4,000 people showed up at the Manisphere Stadium for the 12-hour concert on Wednesday."

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Poster: Monte B Cowboy Date: Jul 15, 2013 4:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: new Festival Express footage & some dating notes

Wow, that answers my question about GD, The Festival Express and Rochdale. I appreciate you forumites putting together this stuff and the Wesleyan stuff.

re: The Rolling Stone article description of Rochdale - it's very good.

> "18-story high-rise freak palace"

Says it all, there ya go -- People like myself (visiting) there would go inside intending to be there "for a couple of hours". But, you would quickly wind up meeting other people, and going into many other rooms there. There were many scenes going on there, constantly. They had a food store, movie theater, lots of supplies, and most stuff you needed to exist peacefully for days and weeks at a time. Lots of incredible dope was the main thing for me. So, we would come out two, three, four days later wondering what the heck just happened to the "extra days" that disappeared somehow. This happened to me many times I went inside Rochdale. For example, the next closest thing to this experience was free-basing coke for 72 hours - which I also did a few times back then, but not at Rochdale.

> "Originally granted government money for the support of a residential experimental college, it has turned into what might be called a front for subsidized housing (though the rents aren't that cheap)"

Yep, exactly. I remember the Rochdale occupants referring to it as a commune 'takeover'.

> "The fire alarm system is actually used for bust warnings."

Correct. Rochdale had their own security. The first and 2nd floors were "public" areas - things such the movie theater, a food store and stuff like this were on these two floors - no dope. Security was located on the second floor. You had to get past security to actually "go inside Rochdale" and enter the dope scene. To pass through security, you were required to give them a name and room number for someone inside. That's it! Whenever the cops showed up at Rochdale for a bust, security would turn on the fire alarm to warn everyone. Dope dealers, beer dealers (like my draft-dodger friend) and everyone locked up their store fronts and their store rooms and went to their residence rooms to wait it out. The cops usually showed up with a warrant to a search a specific room.

The view of Rochdale's front door from the outside showed a steady flow of people constantly going in and out with back packs, shopping bags, brief cases, packages, and stuff like this. The cops never bothered anyone going in or out when I went there. The very first time there we parked my car (with NJ license plates) inside the Rochdale underground garage. When we drove it back outside, the cops pulled us over before we got one block. We were "clean". After that, we rented a garage outside of town and we took the subway to-and-from Rochdale. We were very impressed with how clean and quiet their subways were compared to NYC's rundown and noisy subway system. Also noteworthy was how very clean and rubbish-free the streets of Toronto were downtown.

> "Graffiti decorates all the halls"

Yep. And there was a concert band shell (overhead thingy) there with a stage, located outside. Too bad they pissed off GD. It would have been an elegant venue for an acoustic set.